Struggling with Depression

I am taking a break from writing about fun stuff like failed relationships, RVing, reality TV and my hatred of the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’m going to discuss my life a bit and a one-time battle I had with what I figure is depression. I’m going to tell you what I believed triggered it, what happened while I was fully into it and what got me out of it.

I had a telephone discussion with an ex. Mistake because she blames me leaving her for the misery she finds herself in these days. In fact, she finds great pleasure in letting me know all the crap she’s been through is not a result of her refusal to work full time like us savages, but due to the lack of support I gave her. Ok. Normally that wouldn’t  bother me, but this session was different. She blamed me for her not having any children. She told me she wanted to have three children and now she’s too old to have any (she is).

That made me feel bad. Then I thought sticking around her essentially ended my family line. She didn’t say so, but getting pregnant would have been difficult for her. And the fact of the matter is if she truly wanted to have a kid, we would have. Bottom line, you generally start kids with intercourse, and we weren’t having it. At least not with each other.

Anyway, I thought more about it until I could barely do anything. I would go to work, come home and get right into bed. I would lay there and let these “waves of blue” crash into me. Only after talking to a friend did I realize what was happening. She suggested I go see a therapist, which I did not. I was barely functioning but hardly anyone knew.

What got me through it? My cats. I did not always like cats. In fact, I never wanted to be around them. My cats took care of me. One of our cats would curl up next to me while I was in the fetal position. He would sleep next to me and purr. Our other cat, the anti social one, soon became much more friendly. Before long, both of them would come upstairs, get next to me and purr while my life was going into the tank.

Thats why I’m going to cry like a baby when my cats go. I really really owe them.

What snapped me out? Nothing in particular except a desire to get out of the pity party. I did. It was time to stop feeling sorry for myself and start doing something.

Not everyone can do that. Hardly anyone can do that. It’s very hard. Depression is a mo—- f—-r. It can hurt you badly.

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Spare Kit: An Essential of RVing

We’ve been doing this RV thing for about 3 years now. I’ve learned there can be a situation you just didn’t account for. An example of this is when my wife and I went on a tour of the local area in Kerrville TX. When we came back, we tried to enter the travel trailer but couldn’t. Apparently the lock seized up and we couldn’t unlock it! 

It was no fun breaking into our own trailer. We learned how hard it is to break in while trying to avoid damaging the vehicle. When my wife got in, we still couldn’t unlock the door! Eventually she unscrewed the lock from the inside and we installed the spare door lock.

Wait a minute. The spare door lock?

You bet. I knew that lock was a piece o crap nearly from Day 1 so I bought a spare door lock via Amazon.com. I carried it in our bin o’ spares so we had it just in case. What is in our bin o’ spares? Here’s a partial list:

– 15’ sewage hose and connectors

– black water tank drop ins

– hand crank for leveling screws

– automatic battery float charger

– 25’ drinking water hose

– 1.5 volt solar panel

– rubber gloves

– spare fuses (15, 30 & 40amp) *

– clamps (no purpose yet, but available if needed)

– water regulator

* – new addition

There’s probably about $250 worth of stuff in there, but I’ve used almost all of it. In fact, the old spare sewage hose is the new sewage hose. You should be very selective in picking a sewage hose, because the last thing you want is a sewage hose that fails. For BSP’s RV, we now use Rhino sewage hoses I purchased on Amazon.com. I get nothing from Amazon.com for saying so but they generally have good prices. Walmart has good prices of course; I think I have everything in their RV section but sometimes they go out of stock.

Spare fuses. At this point, I realized I didn’t know the electrical system very well. I discovered this little fact when we stopped at Buffalo, Wyoming. Buffalo is a town in big letters on a map, but in truth it is tiny. We determined we would leave the vehicle hitched instead of disconnecting and reconnecting in 10 hours. So my wife tried to operate the slide out. It didn’t work. The battery gauge said the battery was totally discharged, which upset us since the battery was new. We had been driving all day so the battery should have been fully charged. I opened the spares kit, plugged up the battery charger and started charging the battery. I reconnected it then operated the slide out for a few seconds before it went dead again. I was exasperated, then I thought about the fuses. Was a fuse blown?

Yes. I pulled out the two 40 amp fuses, both were blown. I figured I needed 40 amp fuses so I asked the RV park manager. They didn’t sell 40 amp fuses but he told me about an O’Reilly Auto parts down the road. I was relieved. He then told me:

“They might close early. It’s a holiday (Labor Day).”

Uh oh. Remember I said Buffalo is tiny? 

Of course it was closed. It had closed at 6 pm and it was now 7:30 pm. So I went to the truck stop next door. They had no 40 amp fuses so I bought a 30 amp pack.  

I told my wife it was a long shot; I thought the 30 amp fuses would blow immediately but it was worth a try. I inserted the fuses and the RV immediately powered up. Success! And another addition to our spare kit. We will never travel without those fuses in our spare box.

A spare kit is an absolute necessity. Build a spare kit out of things you use which may fail, forget or even get stolen. I had a bumper cover, one of those plastic things fitting over the bumper opening, get stolen at an overnight stop Amarillo. I had made a spare from the original so I just slipped it on the next day before we left.

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The National Anthem and the Flag of the United States

First, I will say I fly the Flag of the United States at my home. Personally, I would always stand for the National Anthem. It’s not because I’m being forced to, it’s because I believe the Flag still stands for Freedom. To me, the Flag stands for the ideals of the United States and the rights which we supposedly to have. The Flag is a symbol of the people who fought for me to have those rights.

My beliefs are not everyone else’s, and I get that. There are lots of people who have had different experiences than I have. To them, the Flag of the United States could mean something else entirely.

When I see NFLers kneel for the presentation of the Flag and playing of the National Anthem, I’m ok with it. Why? Because it’s for something, a cause which they believe in.

I will tell you this: my great grandfather fought for this country in World War I. When he returned, he couldn’t vote in his state. For him, the Flag did not represent bitterness. It represented where we SHOULD be as a nation.

Forcing players to stand for the Anthem and the Colors is to me, counterproductive. It’s making someone pay respect to something they don’t really believe in. It’s fraudulent. When I say the Flag stands for our rights, forcing someone to pay it respect infringes upon those very same rights it stands for.

What next, team owners make players pray to their God(s) before games because it’s popular with fans? How about standing for the Confederate flag or a statue of Bob Lee? It’s not a huge stretch.

Roger Goodell, team owners or even the president cannot extinguish what someone believes in by forcing them into standing for the Colors, and the National Anthem. For me, I will always stand for the Flag, because it stands for exactly what those people are trying to impose: faux patriotism.

 

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A Word about Von Miller

Heard Andy Benoit talk on their podcast like J.J. Watt is one of the greatest defensive players ever. Honest to goodness, Watt is indeed a great player, but saying he’s one of the greatest ever is too soon. 

We at BSP don’t believe Watt is even the best defensive player right now. Neither is Khalil Mack, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Luke Kuechly is great but not the very best. BSP believes the greatest defensive player in the NFL, and of the decade, is Von Miller. It’s easy: Miller had his best games in the biggest games of his career. Miller can play the run, rush the passer and even cover. Von Miller is a true competitor. Von Miller holds a pass rush conference and invites the best pass rushers in the league, including players in his own division. That’s confidence.Von Miller is the guy that drives that entire Denver defense; the guy who makes them a terror to throw against. Without Miller, they are good but not one of the best defenses ever. Without Watt, Houston was one of the best defenses in the league and nearly took down New England in last year’s playoffs.

He’s the only player on that entire team that I can stand even a little bit. Give credit where credit is due.

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Houston Is A Problem

Are you seeing where Houston TX is being inundated by rain from Hurricane Harvey?

National Weather Service radar:

Having been through a number of these storms in different locales, I want to give some insight:

  1. Not everyone in Houston is getting inundated by floodwater: It’s the nation’s 4th largest city and it’s not going away. Most people there are going to be fine, the ones who are not are in truly dire circumstances. It’s not going to get better right away, in fact, it’s likely to get much worse.
  2. There’s no chance to evacuate the city at this point. The time for that is long past. People should have took off Thursday last week. We know evacuating Houston is much more difficult than anyone would have believed, and it was already believed to be damn near impossible. Besides, people who could leave would just pack up the car, hook up the RV and go to Dallas or San Antonio. As was the case in Rita, most persons capable of departing, left.
  3. Those people who have difficulty in departing are the ones in the greatest trouble.
  4. Texas does not believe in civic planning: If you buy a home here, you had best believe you are on your own. Things that many of us East Coasters took for granted don’t happen here. For example, storm drains. Since it doesn’t rain often here, Texas doesn’t plan for things like flooding, or for that matter, earthquakes. When they happen, it’s just viewed as the Will of God and something we will have to get over.
  5. There will be plenty of finger pointing: The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott encouraged residents of Houston to evacuate. The call to evacuate was before the rain got going. The Mayor and local officials recommended against leaving, and now they are looking like idiots. Many of you don’t know or remember this, but in 2005, Houston conducted the largest evacuation of an American city, in response to Hurricane Rita. That storm was nowhere close in severity as this Harvey disaster, but was coming on the heels of the Katrina catastrophe.
  6. San Antonio is the nation’s capital for disaster response: We are better equipped to handle this or any other disaster short of nuclear exchange than anyone else in the country. If you’re in the southern U.S., you’re coming here in response to your disaster. Our city’s response to the Katrina disaster is an example for all cities to emulate.  Anyway, for 48 hours, we believed we were going to suffer from a Harvey associated deluge. As usual, those weather forecasts were wrong. San Antonio is 150 miles inland. A flood here is big news because while we get local flooding, it’s nothing like a coastal city like Galveston or Houston (~ 25 miles from the coast) is going to see. Those include storm surge. San Antonio will get its storms, but it won’t go partially underwater like Houston is now.

Those things said, we are praying for our friends in Houston now. It is going to have some hard days ahead.

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One Good Team, One Bad Team and Regression

Watched some preseason football this past weekend. Saw a couple of teams that jumped out to me. One’s going to be a good team, one’s going to be bad. One team’s going to slip a bit,

No real surprise here, but Seattle’s going to contend for a Super Bowl. Their defense jumps off the screen, even when watching their backups. Their offense Is respectable, and their special teams are back to being special teams. What’s more, rumors of dissention in their locker room seem to be overblown; at least as of this time. They are going to be a tough out for whomever they meet in the playoffs. Did I mention Michael Bennett, Bobby Wagner, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman rank as legitimate Hall of Fame candidates? 

The team I think is going to be bad is the Los Angeles Chargers. I don’t think Anthony Lynn is going to have much success there. Remember when Lynn prevented Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates from attending Tomlinson’s Hall of Fame presentation? He wanted him to be there for his first practice in Los Angeles. When you’re looking at veterans like Phillip Rivers — your best and most important player —  and treating him as if he’s a rookie, you’re headed for trouble. I can’t see a team responding well when you can’t show respect for your veterans right off the bat. Bringing in players like Cardale Jones and giving them roster spots won’t help. He’s a project? He was a project at Ohio State. He also said he was going to Ohio State to play football. At what point does a player get the sport?

I’m watching the Oakland Raiders. A lot of folks are predicting them to go deep into the playoffs. I’m seeing the defense as terrible and not getting good enough to get them to the Super Bowl. I’m watching their draft picks, acquisitions and seeing their efforts to build a Seahawks Jr defense. It’s absurd and it’s failing just like it should. Last night, they made Jared Goff look like a superstar. Like we wrote earlier, Seattle has four potential Hall of Famers on the defensive side of the ball. You can see the Seahawks have defensive players who love football. The Raiders are counting on guys like Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu. These guys went to the beginning of training camp in a struggle over contracts. You know, the pre-slotted contracts where everyone knows how much they are going to get paid. Melifonwu was for a time the only non-1st rounder left unsigned. Once signed, he immediately came up lame.

A lot of Raiders blogs talked about how good Melifonwu — a workout warrior — is going to be. The guy has barely practiced. Gareon Conley has not seen even the practice field since minicamp. The Raiders counted on those two big time. Despite them being my favorite team, I don’t see them as improved over last season, and they have an even more difficult schedule. 

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Kaepernick

What’s the bottom line in the NFL? How does your team decide to keep or get rid of players? Is it winning? Is it only winning, or is it image?

It’s some of both, but you cannot have a controversial player on your team. Controversial means activist; evidently you can have a coach who writes endorsements for a candidate and that’s fine. However some teams have players — quarterbacks — who have proven themselves as failures, and apparently that’s ok too, as long as they are non-controversial. BSP views the scrub quarterback who allegedly knows the offense but can’t actually execute it as the highest form of affirmative action.

When Blaine Gabbert & Matt McGloin can get jobs in the NFL, and they’ve lost nearly every game they started — saying a Colin Kaepernick can’t fit into your system is a joke. 

A team brings in Jay Cutler for $10M a season. The same Jay Cutler who may/may not have QUIT on his team in a conference championship game. You tell me its only about winning? LOL. Again, no it’s not. Teams not signing Kaepernick  is clearly fan reaction about Kap’s alleged disrespect to the flag … and to veterans like myself. 

That’s a real LOL. Get serious. Especially since some of these teams like the Jets were making DoD PAY them to honor vets during games. Yes, the military had to pay teams to give the NFL the privilege and image of supporting war veterans.  This isn’t heard from anyone other than the Washington Post, the nation’s best newspaper because they don’t give a f about protecting sacred cows.

Get over yourselves and let Kap play.

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Getting your RV Ready

Before getting into it, if you have any ideas on preparing an RV for a lengthy tour, please leave a message or a URL to your blog. Anything that helps is, well, a help,

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the closing of Gander Mountain. It’s finally down to the last week of our local store, and I’ve taken full advantage of it. I’ve purchased waterproof hiking boots, steel toe boots and comfortable cold weather clothing. We are again making a fall trip to the Northern United States. By the way, those Lacrosse boots I linked to are awesome goodness,  comfortable safety boots. I think I got them for an unheard of $56. 

I am personally ready for the trip. In fact, I think I’m packed already. Now I have to prepare the RV. For that effort, I’m calling upon our dealership to check out the vehicle. They have a deal: three services and you get one free. It’s going to wind up being about $350 – $400 (!) I’m wondering about the true value of the services, because all appears well right now.

The air conditioner check is mandatory, because you can’t RV in Texas without a/c. Well, you can but life will absolutely suck in a hot ass box. It’s possible if you are one of those restaurant patio dwellers; the people who eat outside when it’s 98 degrees and bugs flying everywhere, when it’s cool, bug-free and empty inside. One of my colleagues says no a/c isn’t too bad. He’s making it up. It’s essential for us southern dwellers.

Next is the furnace. If you are going north in Fall, you should have a working furnace … or a lot of blankets and sleeping bags. When we went to Yellowstone, the temperatures dropped into the 20’s our first night. We had heard RV’s don’t use much propane. We found out that was false, ours went through the remainder of our 1st can that night. It was 52 degrees in our trailer that morning. My menopausal wife was like, oh, this is great! No it wasn’t. Seeing your breath in your trailer is not great! The propane isn’t a big deal, but our center vent in the floor blows no air. Never has, including last year when we had it checked. We need to figure it out, whether it’s a fault or we don’t know how to make it work.

Roof patching: A critical issue with RVs is the roof and the potential for leaks. We keep ours parked underneath a roof so we wouldn’t know whether it leaked until we took it on a trip and it rained. So the dealer will look at the roof and patch it if they see a potential leak.

Water heater: the water heater is about the last problem you want on a trip. In fact, I created a problem when I didn’t turn the cold water valve after I sanitized the water system. An icy shower changes your mind about a lot of things in a hurry. A clean and operational water heater is a necessity, especially if you cook your own meals.

One option for us is a refrigerator check, but I think we will pass this time. We haven’t had much of a problem with the refrigerator, plus we carry a Pelican cooler. I should mention this: Pelican coolers IMHO are better than Yetis. The military uses Pelican equipment downrange (AFG, Iraq). They are tough as hell and made in the USA. They are not cheap and they are not lightweight, but they are as good as I could find.

 One thing I thought about was ICE. I do not use ice in our cooler, I use ice packs. 

Tundra ice pack


While these babies do not get down into every crevice, they are colder than ice. These Tundra ice packs are at 5 degrees. Ice packs are much less messy and you can reuse them. In fact you can use your freezer to re-freeze the ice packs. No ice water to pour out at the end of a trip, and it’s easier to clean out the cooler. Good ice packs are not cheap either. You get what you pay for, though. We bought cheap $2 ice packs and after a couple of uses, some kind of goo was coming out of a couple of them.

A second option for us is packing wheel bearings. I spoke to a RV service manager near us. He told  us they would do the work but it would be unnecessary unless we had been traveling in the 80-100,000 mile range. We have travelled closer to 8,000 miles. So we’ll pass on that. 

Tire checks are mandatory. I run the trailer by Discount Tire for a pressure check and tire inspection no more than three days before departure. What they do is cursory but gives us a feeling of security. If there is a problem, they will replace the tire. I’m never going to say this for sure helps us but I think it does: Never inflate the tires to the maximum air pressure or you will have problems. I underinflate them by about 10 percent. The tires typically will heat up due to road friction; if they are already at the max … expect problems. You don’t want to get into the engineering of the tires and “red lines.” Especially RV tires since they are cheap Chinese tires anyway. If Michelin made tires for my RV I would buy a set immediately.

I used to seriously baby the tires before we put the RV under the roof. I used to drive my RV onto some wood boards to get them up off the asphalt. My theory is, this kept the tires from getting heated up and weakened by sitting in the same place for long periods of time. A colleague stated RV tires are engineered for sitting but what I was doing was smart because of moisture. Water is the enemy of tires. By getting the tires off the asphalt, it prevented lengthy exposure to water when it rains. That’s something I should resume doing.

Always check your lights before departure. Due to military service, I always do light and brake  checks on the tow vehicle and RV while we are at home.

One of my colleagues noticed a turn signal on his RV didn’t work, so he replaced the bulb. It still didn’t work so he started spark chasing. After determining his RV lights worked, he found his tow vehicle (Ram 1500) has a separate circuit for the trailer lights and it had blown a fuse. The turn signal on the truck still worked but not the one powering the RV turn signal. Easy fix, but not so easy to resolve.

Again, if you have any helpful tips, I’d certainly appreciate them.

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